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Secret Scientist Natalie Portman Gets Mo’ed

Our very own NOVA scienceNOW correspondent, Mo Rocca, recently interviewed Oscar-winner/”It Girl,” Natalie Portman. And I got the chance to grill Mo afterwards to see just how impressed he was with her Intel intellect that I wrote about previously. Below is our Q&A.

On Sunday mornings, he likes to Mo the “Swan.”


TOBEY: Would you believe me if I told you Natalie Portman was a science whiz, nay, genius?

MO: In her yearbook she was voted most likely to win “Jeopardy.” And probably watching “Jeopardy” as a teen is what helped her get into Harvard. Something tells me that she could have beaten that computer. She’s whip-smart.

TOBEY: Now that she has that Oscar, what are the odds that her singular focus will lead her to a Nobel? A lot of those Intel finalists go on to win them, you know.

MO: “Black Swan” was probably really big in Scandinavia, so she probably has a leg up on a Nobel.

TOBEY: Do you think she might find her way back to science, at least via film?

MO: I’d like to see her in a reboot of “Silkwood” except in this case she wouldn’t die. I think she’d probably be too smart to drive on country roads at night.

TOBEY: As a fellow Harvard alum, would you say you two have a chemistry?

MO: I think because she probably took and aced Chemistry, our Chemistry was less based on academics. Believe me, Harvard relies on the Natalie Portman’s, not the Mo Rocca’s, to keep the GPA up. I think our chemistry was clearly based on our background in dance.

TOBEY: What do you think she wears better—couture or a lab coat?

MO: I’d kind of like to see her in a Dolce and Gabbana lab coat. But she’s vegan, so this would not be a fur-lined lab coat. There would be no leather trim. Maybe a hemp lab coat—a designer one.

TOBEY: Did she tell you the formula for those wicked scary red eyes in “Black Swan”?

Searing secret scientist eyes

MO: I don’t know what element of the periodic table makes your eyes that red. Radon? She did not reveal what the secret was to her red eyes, but I suspect that she probably knows exactly what element is required.

TOBEY: Favorite Natalie movie?

MO: My favorite is “The Professional.” She was not a scientist in that, but she was a student. Of assassination. But still, a student. Gotta start somewhere. At least she applied herself.
So it’s official – Natalie is really an INTELlectual.

If you want more Mo Rocca in your life – and you should – watch his NOVA piece, Mind Control.

You can also see how Natalie’s smarts shines through in Mo’s interview for CBS News.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Tobey List

    As a co-producer on “Secret Life,” Tobey is able to combine two of her favorite things—film and science! She is delighted to finally redeem herself in the eyes of her high-school science teachers, all of whom thought she was destined for a career in science until she shocked and alienated them all and chose….film. After receiving a degree in Journalism and French from UNC—Chapel Hill, Tobey worked for several years at PBS, where she gained a love for documentary. She then threw all logic to the wind and returned to school, earning her MFA in Film from Columbia University. During her studies, she produced numerous award-winning short films and associate-produced the feature documentary “No Impact Man.” Tobey is a writer and producer for both documentary and narrative film.